Dutch West India Company Conquest of America and the West Coast of Africa

Engraved Plates & Maps

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202. LAET, Joannes de. Historie Ofte Iaerlijck Verhael Van de Verrichtinghen der Geoctroyeerde West-Indische Compagnie, zedert haer Begin, tot het eynde van ‘t jaer sesthien-hondert ses-en-dertich; Begrepen in derthien Boecken, Ende met verscheyden koperen Platen verciert: Beschreven door Ionnas de Laet Bewint-hebber der selver Compagnie. Tot Leyden: Bonaventuer ende Abraham Elzevier, Anno 1644. [32], 1-544, [1-2 (sectional title: Kort Verhael Wt de voorgaende Boecken ghetrocken vande diensten ende nuttigheden die desen Staet heeft genooten By de West-Indische Compagnie...], 3-31 [1, blank], [11, index] [1, blank] pp., mostly printed in black letter, title printed in red and black with large engraved printer’s device of the Elsevier House, engraved and woodcut initials, head- and tail-pieces. 13 folded copper engravings (7 maps, 6 plates; see map and plate list below). Folio (32 x 20.5 cm), old vellum over boards, over which is what is probably the original vellum laid down, modern printed spine label. Binding moderately stained, vellum with several voids, recased with new endpapers. Interior with numerous pages lightly to moderately waterstained, mostly in margins, most of preliminaries with small tears (no losses), title with old ink stamp and later ink signature. Overall a good copy of a rare edition in commerce difficult to find complete (some copies lack the report on the West India Company and index).


Overall sheet size of each engraving: approximately 31 x 37.2 cm.

[1]  Bayo de Todos los Sanctos [title in strapwork and scroll cartouche with droll face incorporating scale below]; over twenty ships at the coast of “Cidade do San Salvador,” compass with fleur-de-lis. Neat line to neat line: 26.7 x 33.7 cm. Follows p. 10. E.H. in The Geographical Journal, Vol. 64, No. 1, July, 1924, p. 62 traces the evolution of this map and its special historical military interest and importance, notingthat it illustrates “the taking of San Salvador on the Baya de todos los Sanctos in Brazil by Admiral Jacob Willekes...published at Amsterdam in 1624 by Vischer and Hessel Gerritz jointly.” To set the historical background of the battle, Bruce P. Lenman states in “A Huntington Atlas and the Activities of Louis XIV and His Navy in America” in Huntington Library Quarterly, Vol. 72, No. 3, September 2009, p. 412: “Portugal had joined England in a European coalition waging war on France. It was a dangerous decision, with traumatic consequences for Portugal.”

[2]  Grondt-Teeckening vande Stadt en Kasteel Porto Rico ende Gelegenheyt vande Haven [title at top within neat line, two keys, compass with fleur-de-lis]. Neat line to neat line: 25.5 x 23 cm. Follows p. 58. JCB Image 3502-2: “Plan of San Juan Bautista on Puerto Rico, showing location of the castle or fortress, wells, market square, monasteries, and churches.... The plan shows the location of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th-century fortress named in honor of King Philip II of Spain, that was designed to guard the entrance to San Juan bay.”

[3]  Afbeeldinghe van t’fort op Rio Grande ende belegeringhe [title at top within neat line, scale at left within strapwork, topographical and architectural features in Brazil]. Neat line to neat line: 26 x 32.7 cm. Follows p. 364. JCB Image 3505-7: “Plan of the Fort of the Three Kings or Ceulen. Includes fortifications, location of batteries, barracks, Portuguese village, and indications of sea banks or shoals. Also includes scale and topographical details.... Prefecture of Rio Grande (do Norte) and the fort built there on the Potengi. In 1597, the Portuguese built a fortress on the banks of the Potengi River. Begun by Albuquerque Maranhão in 1598, the fort was named Forte dos Santos Reis (or Fort of the Three Wise Men). The Dutch captured and held the fort (which they named Van Ceulen [Keulen] Fort) from 1633 to 1654.”

[4]  Afbeeldinghe vande Cabo St. Augustin ende Forten [title at lower left in strapwork cartouche, compass rose]. Neat line to neat line: 26.1 x 33 cm. Follows p. 282. JCB Image 3502-8: “Plan of the fort at Cape Saint Augustine [Cabo de Santo Agostinho] or present-day Natal, the easternmost part of Brazil, on the mouth of the Rio Pousioucq [Rio Potengi?]. Cartographic elements include compass rose, sea banks or shoals, location of settlements, batteries, fortifications, and redoubts.... The bridgehead at the entrance to the harbour, ‘inkomen van de haven,’ was captured from the Portuguese by the Dutch West India Company in March 1634, by securing a foothold at the ‘Pontal.’ The Portuguese kept watch on the Dutch from their fort of Nazaré. The region remained in Dutch hands until 1646.”

[5]  Afbeeldinghe van Pariba ende Forten [title in strapwork at top left, including city plan of Pariba, Brazil, compass rose at lower left]. Neat line to neat line: 26 x 33.2 cm. Follows p. 426. JCB image 3205-9: “Plan of the area around the forts at the mouth of the Paraíba do Sul and settlement of Frederickstadt [Frederiksstad].... attempt to capture the area at the mouth of the Paraíba River in 1634 and were successful. The region remained in Dutch hands until 1646.”

[6] Curacao Eylandt [title in strapwork at top right, compass rose at lower left]. Neat line to neat line: 26.5 x 32.5 cm. Follows p. 432. The island, which is off the coast of Venezuela, was first conquered in 1499 by the Spanish expedition of Ojeda, who enslaved and removed most of the Natives. In 1634 the island was occupied by the Dutch under the Dutch West India Company and became an important center for the slave trade. It is still part of the Netherlands. Since 1915 oil refining has been its economic mainstay.


[1]  Salvador [title in banner at top]; bird’s-eye view of the city and vivid battle in 1624 when the Dutch attacked the town of San Salvador and the Portuguese fleet. Neat line to neat line (including key with numbers and letters identifying structures, etc.): 27 x 34.8 cm. Follows p. 16.

[2]  Three views on one sheet: [Top left] Arx cum sua Turri; [top right] Arx post Turrim a nostris deiectam; [bottom] Porto Rico. Neat line to neat line: 25.7 x 33 cm. Light marginal staining not affecting images, else fine. Precedes p. 59. JCB Image 3502-3: “Bautista on Puerto Rico, showing two views of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro and a view of San Juan from the harbor. Also includes dwellings, cross, and ships.... The Castillo San Felipe del Morro was a 16th-century fortress named in honor of King Philip II of Spain and was designed to guard the entrance to San Juan Bay. This plate shows garitas or dome-covered buildings, so emblematic of San Juan.”

[3]  Two views on one sheet: [Top] Marin d’Olinda de Pernambuco [bottom] T’Recif de Pernambuco. Neat line to neat line: 26 x 32.5 cm. Follows p. 184. JCB Image 3502-4: “The Dutch and the West India Company made their second, and more successful, attempt to colonize Brazil in 1629, after a brief possession of São Salvador de Bahia de Todos los Santos from 1624 to 1625. Hendrick Corneliszoon Loncq, commander of the Dutch fleet, arrived at Pernambuco in February 1630 with a fleet of 67 ships. By February 16, 1630, the Dutch were in possession of Olinda; by March all Portuguese resistance was over and the Dutch were masters of Recife, Olinda, and the island of Antonio Vaz.”

[4]  Trugillo [title in banner at top, key to 19 locations below]. Neat line to neat line: 27.5 x 45 cm. Follows p. 362. JCB Image 3502-5: “View of the harbor at Trugillo [Trujillo or Truxillo], present-day Honduras. Includes ships, signal tower, dwellings, fortifications, cross, and people on the beach. Items in the image are numbered for identification in key at bottom of image. Of interest is the identification of individual ships, giving their names.... Trujillo, a pirate stronghold, was destroyed several times between 1633 and 1797, and abandoned by the Spanish after it was deemed indefensible during the eighteenth century.”

[5] View with inset map: St. Francisco de Campeche [in banner at top below neat line]; [Untitled inset map showing Yucatan and environs, within strapwork frame]. Neat line to neat line: 27.2 x 35 cm. Follows p. 354. JCB Image No. 3502-6: “View of the harbor at San Francisco de Campeche, now known as Campeche, Mexico. Includes a scene of naval warfare, government buildings, dwellings, cathedral, churches, monastery, ships, people on shore, and boats. Includes an inset map of the Yucatán and Gulf of Honduras; cartographic elements include sea banks or shoals, some topographical detail, location of Trugillo [Truxillo, Trujillo], Campeche, and Cuba.... Campeche, founded on the site of a Mayan village, was one of three ports that had a monopoly of trade on the Yucatán peninsula in the eighteenth century.” Items in the image are identified in key at bottom entitled Verclaringe de Syfergetalen.

[6]  Untitled view of part of Cape Verde in the area around the island on Santiago located off of Africa’s northwest coast, with key to Fort Royal, and seven other sites. Neat line to neat line (including key): 27.3 x 34.5 cm. Follows p. 460. This city center was the first European colonial settlement in the tropics and a major slave trading site. Some of the meticulously planned original design of the site is still intact, from the Forte Real de São Filipe to two towering churches to a sixteenth-century town square.

[7]  Anno 1636 Afbeeldinghe van de Slagh van onse Troupen onder het beleijdt vande H Colonel Artichau, tegen de Spaensche Troupen onder t’ Commando van Don Louys de Rochas e Borgia [title beneath map between image and key]. Neat line to neat line (including key): 27 x 33.7 cm. Follows p. 504. Bird’s-eye view of a battle between the Dutch West India Company and the Spanish in 1636. The Spanish commander Louis Rojas y Borgia made landfall in Jaraguà, south of Recife. The battle depicted here was probably waged somewhere near Porto Calvo.
     This edition is usually described as the first edition in the trade, probably because the work was constantly updated. Our copy is the enlarged edition of the 1630 edition of this important work on the travels of the Dutch to America and the west coast of Africa, here with a section concerning the services that one W.I.C. has rendered. The first edition was published in 1625, and enlarged on a regular basis. Rodrigues and Borba de Moraes both call for 14 plates; other bibliographies call for 12. Our copy has 13 plates, and the plate list at the front of our copy calls for 12. This variation may be due to the author’s constant revision of his work to keep it current. Asher, Dutch Books and Pamphlets relating to New-Netherland 22. Borba de Moraes 1:452: “This famous history of the West India Company is today quite rare, especially with the plates.” European Americana 1644/91. JCB I (2, 1600-1658), p. 316-317. Goldsmith’s-Kress Library of Economic Literature, no. 869.1-1 suppl. Rodrigues 1350: “Obra essencial.” Sabin 38556. Vail 103. Willems, Les Elzevier 571.

     De Laet constantly revised his text, bringing it down to 1635 in the present edition. This significant book remains one of the more important works on its subject and is consulted even today. Widely translated, it had influence on governmental policies in various nations who were in competition with the Company. Despite its huge importance and considerable influence of trade, foreign affairs, and New World colonization from its founding in 1623, it went bankrupt in 1636, where this history ends. The plates contain important views of the New World.

     Johannes de Laet (1581-1649) was a Dutch geographer, a great promoter of Dutch colonizatio, and a founding director of the Dutch West India Company. As a Protestant, he suffered many of the displacements caused by the wars of religion, and he resided for a while in England. He was a prolific author and historian who maintained a wide correspondence with other learned men of the time.


Sold. Hammer: $4,400.00; Price Realized: $5,390.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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